On Saturday 5 October, we were alerted to the presence of a whale in the Thames Estuary, it was being identified as a humpback whale although at the distance it was viewed from, the species wasn’t 100% clear. Throughout the afternoon we received more information and some clearer photographs making the identification process a lot easier. By the end of the afternoon we were almost certain that the first informant was correct and we did have a humpback whale swimming in the estuary around the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford.
On Sunday morning a team of three BDMLR volunteers met up at Greenhithe at the exact spot the whale had been viewed from on Saturday, and within about 30 minutes the whale came into sight, slowly surfacing on the Dartford side of the bridge, and then diving again for around 5 minutes. This pattern continued for a further few hours and the team followed the whales progress by land eastwards down the estuary. Once the whale reached Grays on the Essex side of the estuary, it slowed down and didn’t swim any further. The whale appeared to be moving at a steady pace, surfacing every 5-6 minutes and then diving again. Several vessels passed close to the animal which didn’t seem to worry it and didn’t cause it to change its direction.
On Monday afternoon a Greenhithe resident called to report the whale was struggling in shallow water and was in danger of stranding, however once we arrived on scene the whale was no longer there and we believe it will have headed westwards with the incoming tide.
We will continue to monitor sightings and reports of the whale over the next few days, and are on standby to help in any way possible if the need arises.
If you see the whale please call our hotline 01825 765546 with any information you can offer.
On Tuesday 8th October, the humpback whale which had been monitored since Saturday 5th October, was sadly found dead in the Thames Estuary at Greenhithe.
Since the weekend BDMLR volunteers and members of the public had been keeping an eye on the whale and recording its movements throughout the day as it travelled between Woolwich and Grays. The whale had been staying mainly in the middle of the estuary, slowly moving westwards on the incoming tide and towards the east as the tide fell; but on Monday afternoon a report came in that the animal was very close the shore and concerns were raised that it may strand. However with the tide rising quickly, the whale slowly moved away and was not reported again that day.
On Tuesday morning, the first sighting of the whale was around 8am at Erith Reach, and was recorded swimming freely by a boat owner. As the day went on there were no further sightings of the whale until around 5pm when the body was seen on the estuary banks at Greenhithe.
The body has been recovered by London Ports and the Cetacean Stranding Investigation Programme will be carrying out a full post mortem examination over the next couple of days, of which the results will be published when complete.